Thousands of years ago, many years
before David lived, there was a very wise
and good man of his people who was a
friend and adviser of the king of Egypt.
And for love of this friend, the king of
Egypt had let numbers of the Israelites
settle in his land. But after the king and
his Israelitish friend were dead, there was a
new king, who hated the Israelites. When
he saw how strong they were, and how
many there were of them, he began to be
afraid that some day they might number
more than the Egyptians, and might take
his land from him.
Then he and his rulers did a wicked
thing. They made the Israelites slaves.
And they gave them terrible tasks to do,
without proper rest, or food, or clothes.
For they hoped that the hardship would
kill off the Israelites. They thought the
old men would die and the young men
be so ill and weary that they could not
bring up families, and so the race would
But in spite of the work and suffering,
the Israelites remained strong, and more
and more boys grew up, to make the king
Then he did the wickedest thing of all.
He ordered his soldiers to kill every boy
baby that should be born in an Israelitish
family; he did not care about the girls,
because they could not grow up to fight.
Very soon after this evil order, a boy
baby was born in a certain Israelitish
family. When his mother first looked at
him her heart was nearly broken, for he
was even more beautiful than most babies
are,--so strong and fair and sweet. But
he was a boy! How could she save him
Somehow, she contrived to keep him
hidden for three whole months. But at
the end of that time, she saw that it was
not going to be possible to keep him safe
any longer. She had been thinking all this
time about what she should do, and now
she carried out her plan.
First, she took a basket made of
bulrushes and daubed it all over with pitch
so that it was water-tight, and then she laid
the baby in it; then she carried it to the
edge of the river and laid it in the flags by
the river's brink. It did not show at all,
unless one were quite near it. Then she
kissed her little son and left him there.
But his sister stood far off, not seeming to
watch, but really watching carefully to see
what would happen to the baby.
Soon there was the sound of talk and
laughter, and a train of beautiful women
came down to the water's edge. It was the
king's daughter, come down to bathe in
the river, with her maidens. The maidens
walked along by the river's side.
As the king's daughter came near to the
water, she saw the strange little basket
lying in the flags, and she sent her maid to
bring it to her. And when she had opened
it, she saw the child; the poor baby was
crying. When she saw him, so helpless
and so beautiful, crying for his mother,
the king's daughter pitied him and loved
him. She knew the cruel order of her
father, and she said at once, "This is one
of the Hebrews' children."
At that moment the baby's sister came
to the princess and said, "Shall I go and
find thee a nurse from the Hebrew women,
so that she may nurse the child for thee?"
Not a word did she say about whose child
it was, but perhaps the princess guessed;
I don't know. At all events, she told the
little girl to go.
So the maiden went, and brought her
Then the king's daughter said to the
baby's mother, "Take this child away and
nurse it for me, and I will give thee wages."
Was not that a strange thing? And can
you think how happy the baby's mother
was? For now the baby would be known
only as the princess's adopted child, and
would be safe.
And it was so. The mother kept him
until he was old enough to be taken to the
princess's palace. Then he was brought
and given to the king's daughter, and he
became her son. And she named him Moses.
But the strangest part of the whole story
is, that when Moses grew to be a man he
became so strong and wise that it was he
who at last saved his people from the king
and conquered the Egyptians. The one
child saved by the king's own daughter
was the very one the king would most have
wanted to kill, if he had known.